Mrs Humanities

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Resource – Differentiation Strategies CPD

differentationDifferentiation. I’ve only recently began to recognise how misconstrued my understanding of differentiation was in my first few years of teaching.

I guess my original understanding was that it meant providing different work for students based on their needs and abilities. At times, as a result I would find myself planning lessons in such a way that I’d essentially be teaching multiple lessons in the same lesson in order to cater for the ‘All, Most, Some’ learning objectives my first school required. No wonder I found it such hard work. Then when I started teaching mixed ability groups, it got even worse but I got really good at differentiation by task. However that’s not how differentiation works I’ve come to realise. There’s far more to it than that.

In my formative years of teaching, I went by the rule ‘differentiation by outcome is not acceptable’, I can’t remember if it was my first school that had this rule or whether I’d learnt it on my PGCE course. Either way, actually it is okay, especially now that in Geography and History at GCSE all students undertake the same questions, there is no differentiation between those doing higher tier and foundation. They all do the same, yet their outcomes will be different!!!! It’s now all about scaffolding students to achieve.

But differentiation goes beyond that.

When I was training to teacher I learnt that differentiation was ‘the process by which differences between learners are accommodated so that all students in a group have the best possible chance of learning’ as described by the Training and Development Agency for Schools and that differentiation could be by task, support and outcome.

  • differentiation by task involved setting different tasks for students of different abilities
  • differentiation by support meant giving more help to certain students
  • differentiation by outcome meant setting everyone the same task and allowing student response at different levels

But I’ve learnt that differentiation is far more than this, it’s a teacher’s response to learner’s needs and therefore can be planned or unplanned, long term or short term, explicit or subtle.

It is impossible to differentiate for every student and every need all of the time but being able to adapt and respond in the moment is just as important as planning support in advance.

In fact you may differentiate in any number of ways

– Task
– Instruction
– Resources
– Process
– Outcome
– Seating plan
– Groups
– Feedback
– Subject Content
– Questioning
– Assessment
– Dialogue
– Environment
– Rules and Routines
– Interests
– Approaches to learning
– Pastoral Support

As I put together resources for a CPD session this week, it go me thinking.
– Is it possible to evidence all of this?
– Should we be asked to provide evidence of differentiation in books?
– How is differentiation observed and recognised in lesson observations?
– Is differentiation often to focused on being able to see it through different tasks/support materials?

In particular I started thinking about the fact that if all students sit the same exam at GCSE the key focus should be on scaffolding to succeed rather than capping students with different tasks that suit their ‘ability’.

If I’m honest I would say my differentiation technique now which has been developed over the last 5 years is to teach to the top and differentiate down through scaffolding to support all students to achieve the highest possible grade/level/mark.

Anyway I’m starting to digress. I’m sure your here for the resources.

The CPD session gave an introduction to differentiation for NQTs and ITT students with practical ideas to take away.

 

Now if you’d like a copy of the PowerPoint click here. 

I hope you find the resource of use.

Feel free to share your thoughts on differentiation.

Mrs Humanities

 

 

 


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Mrs Humanities shares… 5 Differentiation Strategies for SpLD

mrs humanities shares

Now I’m no expert in SEN or SpLD for that matter, but these are 5 strategies that I have found that work for my students over the past 5 years. These strategies have come from research or CPD I have undertaken.

1 // Pastel Colours for Powerpoints
Since I can remember I’ve been using pastel colours for PowerPoints and other digital documents. I read somewhere during my NQT year that pastel colours are preferable for students with dyslexia but are also beneficial for all students as white backgrounds can cause eye strain. Ever since then I’ve been using pastel colours for displaying information on the whiteboard. Yellow for task instructions, blue for information and green for assessment for learning. In addition the background is a light grey to reduce glare and sensitivity to bright lights.

Further reading on role and value of colour 

2 // Structure Scaffolds
To support students to develop their extended writing I’ve used a variety of scaffolding strategies over the years in order to enable students to break down the task and focus on demonstrating their knowledge as opposed to structure (initially). Some approaches include sentence_starters_mat, structure sheets/strips and tasks broken down into sections which come together as one piece in the end.

atstructure stips differentiatedtask break down

3 // Note Taking Supports
Students with dyslexia regularly struggle to take notes, the challenge of listening and writing at the same time is clear. In order to develop note taking skills, I’ve provided what many people these days call ‘Knowledge Organisers’ as a reference point and note taking supports to support laying out and recording information.

independent learners topic placematsindependent learners note taking

4 // Differentiated feedback
This really applies to all students, however there are things I focus more or less on with students with SpLD than others. For instance focusing on subject knowledge as opposed to spelling, punctuation and grammar, making students respond to questions as opposed to making improvements to a previous piece of work and editing as opposed to full re-writes.

5 // Words to use in a lesson
Really simple but effective way to develop subject specific terminology in SpLD students and their practice of spelling such terms has been the list of key terms to use during lessons. These appear as a list at the bottom of PowerPoint slides and students are given the key word list at the start of the topic. They’ve then been able to highlight the words for the lesson that they need to focus on using. These are the only spellings I have focused my attention on in the marking of their work and these are the only spellings I have had them correct. I found this worked particularly well with boys, particularly one higher ability boy in year 8 that particularly worried about the structure of his written work and SpAG, he’d focus too much on these rather than showing his understanding in written work. When we started to focus on the spelling of key terminology instead he wrote more about what he knew and understood. independent learners key word lists

I hope this post is of some use to you.

Share your approaches in the comments.

Mrs Humanities


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Guest post from @ploguey – Differentiation ideas that work every time

guest post

I’m really excited to share with you the second in the series of guest posts on the site. I love how everyday differentiation has continued to change and develop since I wrote my last post on it some years ago.

If you have an idea or something to share, get in touch.

Hope you enjoy this one from Paul, @ploguey.

differentiation

It’s a feeling we all have very often. Your class is exiting the classroom door and you have that sinking feeling, and the thoughts begin to cross your mind:

  • I didn’t do enough differentiation in that lesson.
  • I didn’t do any differentiation in that lesson.
  • Students could have made more progress.
  • I was sure that they all would have got that done with no problems.

Scenarios like these really stress me out. It also means that I tend to try and overcompensate the next time I see that class, forcing hours of extra planning upon myself. Once, for a lesson observation, I differentiated for every single student in the class. Yes, you read that right. The lesson was a huge success; however, the main piece of feedback was that I need to focus on improving my work-life balance.

The best aspect of EduTwitter is the virtually unlimited access to teaching and learning styles from teachers all over the world and from other subjects. It’s been my absolute joy to try and test out strategies and make them work for my classes.

These are my favourite methods to use, as they are easy to plan, not time consuming, students enjoy using them and they are designed to support students to produce high-quality work. I have shared these ideas at our differentiation CPD recently.

Read, Edit, Improve

An idea I magpied from @JamieClarke85. This method is designed to support students in answering exam questions and builds upon the WABOLL method (What a Bad One Looks Like). Students are given a poor question response and annotate the mistakes and problems with the response. They then feedback and offer ways to improve the answer in the ‘edit’ section. Finally, they improve the exam question. It’s been highly successful in assisting lower ability students.  It’s one of my favourite methods because students end up practicing exam skills and doing exam questions without even realising it!read edit improve

@jennnnnn_x and @geographyhanna have done wonderful adaptions of this.

read edit improve 1read edit improve 2

Structure Strips

One of my newest methods and I love it how easy it is for students. We are following the new AQA 9-1 Spec and 9-mark questions are very tricky for students to manage.structure-strips.jpg

The structure strip breaks down the question into manageable paragraphs and supports students with the knowledge and skills necessary needed to be successful. Again, it’s been great in supporting my lower ability students in Year 10, but it’s also allowing my higher ability students to reach the top end of expected responses while they adapt to the new accepted writing style. Over time, I tend to take away the targeted questioning for the higher ability students to ensure they are being challenge.

Originally inspired from @_Jopayne and @MrsSpalding.

 

IDEAL analysis

My students love this one, particularly my Year 11s. A simple restructuring of a stimulus question by focusing on the five main geographical skills of interpretation: Identify, Describe, Explain, Analyse and Link. This allows students to build up their answers through probing.  I’ve seen Year 11 students writing this on their mock papers and using it to answers 6- and 8-mark questions.

IDEAL Analysis 1ideal-analysis-2.png

Chilli Challenges

Inspired from the easily recognised Nando’s menu, it offers students a choice of task that suits their understanding and ability. I have found that the ‘Red Hot’ challenge is by far the most popular one, so careful consideration is needed to be given to ensure that students are not pushing themselves too far and struggle as a result. Adaptions included differentiating by target grade, flight path etc.

Chilli Challenges

Thanks for reading.

Paul (@ploguey)


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ACE Questioning

Looking for a way to differentiate and challenge without any significant need for resources?

Try out ACE questioning. A simple idea which can  have big results.

I use it several ways dependent on the class and learners ability range.

Basic concept

A = accept
C = challenge
E = extend

image

Approach 1

The teacher asks a student if they would like to accept, challenge or extend the answer of another student. The student decides and does one of the above, ensuring that if they accept they explain why.

Approach 2

The teacher asks selected students certain questions related to A, C or E.

e.g. do you accept what child A said, why/why not?

Approach 3

During peer assessment students state whether they accept the work as it is and explain why, challenge the answers given by asking them a question such as why do you think… or I actually think this… can you explain why   you’re right? Or they ask a question to extend the answer given.

Try it out and let me know how it goes.


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Differentiation 

This week during a discussion, I was referred to as the “Queen of Differentiation”. In response I replied “well it beats the PMT Queen as l was formerly named’. AWKWARD.

However it got me thinking about differentiation and how I embed the practice into each and every lesson. These days it is something I just DO, I reflect on it and improve it but I find it hard to explain it and since a NQT might join me come September I thought I ought to start considering how I share the concept and ideas.

Throughout the last 3 years of teaching I’ve developed a wide range of strategies which include task based, support based and outcome based differentiation. However throughout my training and NQT year it was always reiterated that differentiation by outcome was not acceptable and that we should always differentiate by task. But how true is that?

Since passing my induction I’ve started to realise that their is a lot more to differentiation than you are taught in the first few years of teaching. It might not always be one of the 3 approaches named above.

Sometimes it can take the form of changing the language you use with certain pupils, for instance I might use 3 different words to give the same meaning to 3 individual students of different abilities. The questions you ask may vary, they still provide the same outcome but the way it is worded changes. The pace of a lesson may vary between classes, groups and individuals. All of these could be seen in my lessons along side task, support and outcome based differentiation.

I thought I’d outline here some of my favourite ways to differentiate to give inspiration.

1 //  My favourite method has to be differentiation through choice. There are two ways in which I approach this, sometimes it is levelled based task other times is it linked to their preferred learning styles.

Levelled Based Choice

I will set up a range of tasks that develop the skills, knowledge and understanding for a particular level. I usually set 3 tasks per class. Those with the lower level range select from the first two options whilst those within the higher level range select from the second and third options meaning they either complete work that enables them to reach or exceed their targets.

A recent example was in an observed lesson with a year 7 class. You can see below that I set up 3 tasks and the students had to choose the level of spice they would attempt.

1 chilli = a level 3 task with a level up task to take them into level 4
2 chillies =  level 3a & 4c tasks with a level up task to take them into a confident level 4
3 chillies = level 4a and 5c tasks with a level up task to ensure they achieved a confident level 5

differentiation choice task

Learning Styles

On occasions I will give the class a range of options for the format in which they present their work such as through a presentation, a leaflet, a poster, an extended piece of writing, a model or story board to name a few.

For instance last term year 7 completed projects on a variety of natural hazards as part of our Dangerous World topic. Firstly pupils were put into ‘levelled’ groups, for instance those with a higher target grade were grouped together and given a hazard that would create more challenge in researching, understanding and explaining.

The groups were then given the levelled criteria and suitable guidance for their ability. They then set about creating their projects for presentation in which ever format they choose from the selection of ‘previews’.

Learning styles became very clear through the activity, those with a kinaesthetic preference made models that demonstrated their knowledge of the hazards, whilst the more visual learns seemed to create projects with lots of text and pictures. There were clear differences within groups as well, for instance one group half of them created a model of a volcano whilst the other half created a large poster for display with images and text.

2 // Questioning

Now this one is hard to evidence when you are questioning the class unless you prepare your questions and who they will be aimed at in advance, which was actually something I was made to do during my PGCE. Although annoying at the time, it  was useful to get me thinking about students abilities, targets and progress.

Nowadays I ask a question before I say any names, I then quickly consider who that question would be suitable for whilst also providing the whole class with thinking time. Then I pounce on the unsuspecting victim and wait for the response.If appropriate I’ll then try to get a higher level student to extend, correct or develop the answer or ask a lower ability student whether they agree or not and why before moving on.

3 // Third and final idea for today is by resource/task.

This is the most time consuming if I’m honest. In a single lesson I can be known to have created 3 levelled tasks then further differentiated them through the support given as well as the resources they are provided with. I may go OTT sometimes. I try not to do that to often however it doesn’t always work out.

Anyway differentiation by resource can take many forms.

For instance in one year 8 lesson, I wanted a number of pupils to achieve the same level of outcome but through different approaches that were suitable to their needs and learning styles.

The level 4 aim was to describe adventures in more than one location. In order to do this a few students were locating places on a map with different adventure possibilities and describing the potential adventures to be had whilst another group were given two adventurer profiles and using a Role on the Wall sheet they had to decide on a location for each and describe they type of adventure to be had there. They both achieved the level 4 objective just in didn’t ways.

Another example would be with my GCSE group when defining key words, a small group receive a number of choices to choose from whilst others have to write their own definition.

Another examples is from a recent observation lesson I gave level 3 and 4 students a very basic colour shading map of population density whilst the level 5 students were given a choropleth map to interpret (not that the observer noticed the different).

There are loads of other useful ideas floating around the internet such as these differentiation cards or this differentiation deviser many ideas for both the newbie and the veteran teacher.

Mrs Humanities